On April 24, 1915, the day before the troops of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) were deployed in Gallipoli, the Turkish government seized hundreds of Armenian artists, intellectuals, academicians, priests, and public figures in Constantinople. Most of them were killed.
Back in the day, there were 15 million of Turkish Muslims and 2 million Armenian Christians in Turkey. Armenians prospered and were better educated than most of the Turks, which resulted in such envy and hate that the government initiated a program of ethnic cleansings. The Turks already had experience of such operations: between 1894 and 1896, Turkish military units eliminated 200.000 Armenians.
Between May and September of 1915, nearly 2 million Armenians have been killed or deported from the Ottoman Empire. Adult males were killed or exiled to death camps while their relatives’ death sentence became death marches through deserts. Children, women, elderly were killed or left to die from hunger and thirst. Young women were turned into sex slaves and forcefully converted to Islam.
The Turkish authorities and their advocates have been denying statements and facts for over a century. According to them, no more than 600.000 people have died, and the episodes of deportations and killings have merely been a part of the war.
An Australian human rights barrister, academic, author, and broadcaster Geoffrey Ronald Robertson in his “An Inconvenient Genocide: Who Now Remembers the Armenians?” (2014) thoroughly investigated the materials of the case and in detail described the arguments for the acknowledgment of the mass killings of Armenians by Turks as a crime against humanity, a Genocide.
Focusing less on the historical aspect of the question, the author cited the witnesses to those events, including diplomats, missionaries, journalists, doctors, and the military. More or less significant testimonies come from Australian prisoners of war. Even the German allies of Turkey, especially German diplomats, were terrified by the witnessed events and sent an in-depth report on them to Berlin.
The modern Turkish law implies prosecutions against those who “offend the Turkish identity” by considering the actions of the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians as a Genocide. A recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature, Turkish novelist Ferit Orhan Pamuk was able to avoid prosecutions only thanks to his prominence.
Such nationalistic oversensitivity cannot be overestimated. In 2010, BBC filmed a play based on the memoirs of a US consul to Harput, Ottoman Empire from 1914 – 1917 Leslie Davis, a witness to the deportations, death marches, and other atrocities. The Turkish actors refused their roles and played under fictional names, afraid that their participation in the play would become known in their homeland.
Robertson clearly indicates that the question of the Genocide is the matter of judges, not historians. He bases his conclusion on the Genocide’s definition of the Convention of the Prevention and Punishment for the Crime of Genocide, the Article II of which states that a Genocide is “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group” through means determined by the Convention.
As a conclusion in the book, based on the gathered evidence, Robertson pleaded Turkey guilty of the 1915 Genocide.
Robertson is a representative of a movement for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide as a crime against humanity. Governments of such countries as Canada, France, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Poland, as well as 48 of the 50 states of the US recognized the Genocide. As for the US and UK (apart from England, every devolved legislature of the UK recognized the Genocide) governments, they haven’t yet recognized the Genocide because Turkey is their key ally.
As for Australia, the parliament of New South Wales (NSW) acknowledged the Genocide in 2013, but the government of Australia didn’t. And it probably was because the representatives of the Australian parliament didn’t want to be forbidden to participate in the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli in Gallipoli, Turkey, like it happened with NSW for their recognition of the Genocide.
Turkey with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan does anything possible to avoid being held responsible for the deeds of the Ottoman Empire.
The book “An Inconvenient Genocide” is a must-read for anyone who doesn’t know anything about the Armenian Genocide. It is a vivid reminder that such crimes against humanity should never be forgotten. There are not many books that are a must for reading, and “An Inconvenient Genocide” is one of them.